ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
Ira 'shares' his story on screen

STRANGE TIMES: John Lithgow and Alfred Molina in a scene from Love Is Strange

BY SIMON YAFFE

IRA Sachs' new film, Love Is Strange, sees a gay couple, four decades into their relationship, being able to marry.

And the director regularly uses his experiences in his work.

"One of the things you can offer as a director is to intimately share your story," Ira told the Jewish Telegraph from his New York home. "I am attentive to the passing of time.

"Love is possible for people in their 40s in a beautiful way.

"I was interested in telling a love story about two people over time. My mother and stepfather have been married for more than 45 years.

"The film is a multi-generational story which examines the different ways each of us experience love - and what we expect from it - at different points in our lives."

In Love Is Strange, Ben (John Lithgow) and George's (Alfred Molina) vows are tested when George loses his job and the couple are forced to live apart.

Ben also loses his job teaching at a Catholic school.

They are suddenly reliant on friends and family.

Oscar winner Marisa Tomei also stars in the film, which was written by Ira and Brazilian Mauricio Zacharias.

It will be released in UK cinemas on Friday, December 5.

Love Is Strange had its premiere in the non-competition programme of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was also screened in the Panorama section of the Berlin International Film Festival.

Ira, who celebrates his 47th birthday today, was raised in Memphis, Tennessee - which was hardly a hotbed of Jewish culture.

He recalled: "Growing up, there were around 2,000 Jewish families.

"There were two emigrations to Memphis , firstly, in the 1850s, the German Jews arrived, which included my mother's family.

"Then, at the turn of the 20th century, eastern European Jews, which included my father's family, arrived.

"Because it was such a small community, most of us were involved with the Reform synagogue.

"I was socially active from a young age and president of the synagogue youth group."

Creativity runs in the family. Ira's sisters, Lynne and Dana, are a filmmaker and author, respectively.

Ira read literature and film theory at Yale and was an activist in gay rights, labour issues and anti-apartheid organisations on campus.

He worked as a theatre director throughout his time at Yale and, after graduating, moved to nearby New York City.

His directorial debut came in 1997 with The Delta, which was included in the Sundance Film Festival selection.

It told the story of 18-year-old Lincoln Bloom, who discovers he is gay.

Ira followed that with Forty Shades of Blue, which won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Prize, and then Married Life, which starred Chris Cooper and Pierce Brosnan.

His film Keep the Lights On debuted at Sundance in 2012.

Ira lives in Greenwich Village with artist husband Boris Torres and their twin boy and girl.

The children's mother lives next door.

It was never an issue for Ira's parents when he told them he was gay.

"Being gay was still 'the unexpected' in 1979, when I came out," Ira said.

"My parents have embraced my life and my family. They are progressive people.

"I had a certain amount of antisemitism aimed at me when I was growing up. Pennies would be thrown at me and I was called a 'kike'.

"They felt strongly about discrimination."

He added: "I consider myself Jewish, even though I am not religious, and I live in a city which is 25 per cent Jewish.

"My partner is Catholic and my children's mother is a Seventh-day Adventist, but they are happy to raise the kids Jewish.

"I think it will give them a wonderful sense of community, which I want for my children.

"I think Judaism can be an identity without demanding beliefs at the same time."

Watch the trailer at http://tinyurl.com/khr95eu


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